It's official: the Montreal landmark Schwartz’s Deli has been sold to the families of Céline Dion and well–known restaurateur Paul Nakis – and it is staying on the Main.

The restaurant on St-Laurent Boulevard has been serving its old-fashioned style of smoked meat to generations of Montrealers, and it regularly draws long lineups of tourists eager to grab a seat in a place that looks untouched by the passing decades.

"I have so many great memories of being there with the guys and with Céline and our families throughout the years. It’s the most unique restaurant in the world, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it," said Dion’s husband, René Angélil, in a written statement.

No "diluting the brand," Angélil says

Angélil nixed rumours he would be opening franchises, saying he was not interested in "diluting the brand."  He said the new owners would make some necessary improvements, but he doesn't want to make the restaurant into something it isn’t.

"It’s truly one-of-a-kind, and we intend to keep it this way," he said.

This won't be the first smoked-meat venture for Dion and Angelil. They have also been partners in Nickels, a chain of retro 1950s diners that sells mostly fast foods, including the famous Montreal sandwiches.

Schwartz’s was founded in 1928 by a Jewish immigrant from Romania, Reuben Schwartz.  The Dion-Angélil and Nakis families bought it for an undisclosed sum from Hy Diamond, who took over the business in 1999.

"Hy Diamond has poured his heart and soul into building this business," said Angélil. "We want him to be proud of our efforts to continue along the same path."


With files from The Canadian Press